There’s been a lot said about the Formula 1 Las Vegas Grand Prix over the past week(s) and months. It has ran the full breadth of possible topics, some real and some completely manufactured for hot-take clickbait. More the latter than the former. We discussed it on our most recent podcast here.
The most recent comment from Red Bull’s Max Verstappen has been an interesting take after the launch party on Wednesday evening. Max, effectively, said that this race is 99% show and 1% sporting event.
Now this was an interesting topic for me to explore. Not the sentiment but the knock-on effect the sentiment had. You see, I follow a few well-known Max haters on social media who live in the UK and they dislike Max and dislike the US races as well as US ownership of the sport.
I reckoned this would put such a person into a tailspin on whether to berate Max for being negative or actually agreeing with him born from their disgust with US ownership and over-the-top silliness of American pomp and hype.
The one thing we do know is that the Vegas GP has been a divisive race and I’ve seen quite a bit of anti-American sentiment in the comments and posts. And the race hasn’t even happened yet! That’s how ridiculous this has gotten.
On one hand, I am inclined to say, “well, this is what you wanted when you took those surveys and posted those comments/memes/“
You see, I take a lot of incoming fire for being an old F1 fan. I never wanted more passing (DRS), more equalizing factors or constructs (HD tires), more equity between teams (on even given Sunday), more hype (concerts, entertainment, destination cities), more micromanaging (white lines, punishment, canceling, social media hate). I didn’t want or ask for any of that. I wanted good motor racing.
I also recall many being excited about the prospect when Liberty Media said they want every F1 race to be like the Super Bowl. Remember that? Yeah, I shuddered at that thought…go back and listen.
Well, now you have it and Vegas was always going to be the place to slather on hype and pomp because, well, that’s what Vegas does best. It’s not Las Vegas’ fault, they are just putting on a show that Liberty Media ordered (read, paid for).
No, this is on you. If you were clamoring for the glitz and glamor with more concerts, events, shopping and excitement for the entire weekend around an F1 race, then you got what you asked for and should refrain from complaining about anything with regards to the Vegas GP. This is your product and I hope you do enjoy it.
But I don’t see many of you enjoying, and I did go back and look at accounts known for their call for a change in F1 to more of an entertainment angle. Yep, they are now complaining of Americans and ruining F1. How convenient.
The common refrain, “well, you know how Americans are” finds little purchase for many of us. None of us wanted this and we’re Americans so careful with that huge blanket your throw over an entire fanbase, Nigel.
I go back to my original statement back in 2005 that is posted on our web page: You can’t take F1 to America, you have to take America to F1.
Drive to Survive did that and worked a treat but now Liberty have forgotten and they are trying to take F1 to America with America’s overblown sense of hype and promotion. Did anyone watch the golf tournament? Good heaven’s that was painful.
With all the negativity around this race that hasn’t happened yet, I now find myself, once again like I have for decades now, defending F1 and in particular a race I wasn’t excited about.
Liberty Media, the teams, the sponsors and many of the fans (I’ll let you determine if it is more new fans or legacy fans) have all wanted this massive event. Let’s be honest here, it is more event than motor race, Max is correct.
It’s ok if you are slightly embarrassed now at the level of hype and pageantry for the event that you wanted. These things tend to work themselves out over time. You have to give Vegas time to find its footing here. They can always re-profile the track and tone down the galactic hype. Miami was more muted this year than last.
In short, you have to let the game come to you. Give it time and it will equalize to the level of engagement fans offer. If it’s over-baked, ticket sales will slow down. Viewer numbers will wane. Prices for sponsor dollars will lower. These things will play themselves out over time so don’t get too upset at Vegas. Vegas is just being Vegas here.
Perhaps what I have seen on social media is more indicative of our current culture than it really is about F1 or Vegas if I’m honest. It’s like a bunch of high school sophomores arguing with each other while a new generation of “content creators” reveal amazing new things that the rest of us have known for decades. That’s ok…new content for a new generation makes a lot of sense as they all wade into the deep end of the F1 pool. I get it. That’s fine.
For the rest of us, let’s see what challenges this track might bring to tire temps, aero levels and strategy. I reckon McLaren have a lot to play for here as does Mercedes and Ferrari. Sergio needs a good race to stay in 2nd. There is still a lot to play for up and down the paddock and sometimes a new track can offer some interesting outcomes. I mean let’s be honest, Valencia wasn’t a great track and yet we got Pastor Maldonado winning there in a Williams!! There’s hope.
Can Lewis, George and Mercedes keep the Tyrrell dream alive as the last F1 driver to win in Vegas was Michele Alboreto driving the Terrell 011.